Build a Purpose-Driven Business With Impact Beyond Profit

Remember those childhood days when we got asked what we wanted to be when we grew up? We dreamt of being artists, entrepreneurs, pilots, or even astronauts. Our ideas were limitless — As we transition into adulthood, the pursuit of a dream job or building a company becomes our reality. Amidst these demands, have you ever wondered what winds your clock every day? Mark Twain once declared, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why”.

Unlocking Purpose: the Ikigai Philosophy

Ikigai, a Japanese philosophy, means your reason for being or what motivates you each morning. To discover your purpose, you need to understand yourself. This means knowing your passions, strengths, mission, and what makes you happy. It transcends mere income and centres around contributing to the greater good. Ask yourself: What impact do you wish to make in the world?

Around two years ago, after finishing my bachelor's degree, I faced the challenge of choosing a career path as an Industrial Designer. During this time, I came across Steve Jobs' impactful commencement speech to Stanford University graduates in 2005. I felt a strong connection to his words, which helped me discover my purpose in life. He emphasized the importance of finding meaning by reflecting on our experiences.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. - Steve Jobs 

Jobs also underscored the importance of trusting our intuition and not letting external opinions drown out our inner voice. Reflect on the legacy you want to leave; it defines who you are and propels you toward a meaningful life. 

Connecting the Dots

As I traced back my life’s journey, I encountered a myriad of adventures. Ever since I was young, I’ve liked books, creativity, graphic design and technology. I even dabbled as a young entrepreneur, selling handmade jewellery for fun. While dealing with these things, I experienced the challenge of being deaf and isolated. It felt like I lived in two different worlds - the hearing world and my own deaf world. This journey helped me understand who I am, learn about the Deaf community in new ways and get involved.

The onset of the pandemic, which lasted two long years, threw me into a crisis. For the first time, communication barriers and challenges became my unwelcome companions. The impact on my college education was undeniable. But in the midst of this disruption, I found an unexpected source of strength. I thought about my life’s purpose and studied the Deaf community and its rich culture.

And when I was connecting the dots from my past experiences in graphic design, computer science and industrial design, I discovered that creating ordinary items like jewelry, lamps, or chairs didn’t bring me joy. This made me wonder: What if I combined design, technology, and entrepreneurship to create a business that has a real impact? I saw a vision that showed me how to help and improve the lives of people with disabilities through design and technology. This became my source of joy. I didn’t want to wait for the government to change things for minority groups. I wanted to help make that change happen.

Sunset Sun over Thin Plants Branches. Photo by Thuong D on Pexels
Sunset Sun over Thin Plants Branches. Photo by Thuong D on Pexels

Pause and take a moment to think about what bothers you and ask yourself how you can transform that discomfort into a catalyst for change. Look at the Global Sustainable Goals for 2030; they can help you understand the critical challenges we face. Engage in conversations within your community and observe your surroundings. Identify aspects that deviate from what should be, recognizing the opportunities for change. By actively seeking out these untapped potentials, you'll position yourself to impact the world around you significantly.

Trusting the Vision

There are many ways to pursue a purpose-driven business with impact that aligns with your passion and mission. Some examples include promoting social inclusion, empowering marginalized groups, using technology for social good, advocating for gender equality, supporting economic growth, and promoting sustainability. Despite potential scepticism, remember Steve Jobs’ words:

Here’s to the crazy ones (…) the ones who see things differently (…) Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

In the “Product Design for Impact” class, Susan Akbarpour mentioned that many founders and innovators are going against the norms to create products that can impact the world. However, they often face obstacles along the way. Also, 9 out of 10 startups fail after takeoff. The problem is not with their products but with their failure to communicate their value effectively.

Harbour.Space Students in Susan's Class
Harbour.Space Students in Susan's Class

The Essence of a Purpose-Driven Business With Impact

A purpose-driven business with impact means creating positive, long-lasting change worldwide. The goal is more than just making money. It aims to make a positive impact on the society and the environment. Research, like the “2020 Zeno Strenght of Purpose Study”, reveals that Gen Z and Millennial consumers strongly support purpose-driven companies. Investors and banks now consider social and environmental impact when funding startups. According to the EVERFI consumer survey:


  • 58% of purpose-driven organizations grew 10% or more in three years, compared to 42% that are not purpose-driven.
  • 46% of consumers believe companies hold an obligation to address societal problems, emphasizing the growing importance of corporate social responsibility.
  • 90% of purpose-driven companies observe increased employee motivation and loyalty.

These key statistics encapsulate the transformative power of purpose, providing a succinct view of the positive impact on growth, consumer perception and employee satisfaction.


The Ikigai philosophy helps us find our purpose by exploring what we love, what we're good at, and what impact we want to achieve. It also considers the opportunities we have for success. The journey begins with discovering oneself and it concludes by finding joy in purposeful entrepreneurship. The key is to trust your vision, take on challenges, and contribute to positive change. Susan Akbarpour's insights highlight the difficulties that innovators face. It emphasizes the importance of communicating the value of impactful products.

Passion and purpose, as shown in the "2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose" study, lead to success. Gen Z and Millennials support purpose-driven ventures. Investors and banks focus on social and environmental impact, showing their transformative power.

If you want to become an entrepreneur or want your business to make a difference, think about your concerns. Learn about global challenges. Get involved in your community. Take action. Be part of the change, for, as Steve Jobs proclaimed, it is the crazy ones who envision and shape a different world.

Thanks for reading

If you’re interested in further growth, take a look at our website to learn what your future could look like at Harbour.Space. Lastly, get in touch with us at to let us know your thoughts!

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Hey everyone!Yasiris is a Deaf Industrial Designer who believes in the power of design and technology to improve people's lives. She is an advocate for accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities and is currently pursuing a master's degree in Interaction Design at Harbour.Space.
Yasiris GomezGuest Author
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